CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – When Mark Branson’s phone beeped with a news alert Wednesday morning, he didn’t expect it would hit him so hard. The alert was the announcement that the Trump administration is trying to ban all non-tobacco flavored vaping products from the market.
“It was really a shock, and I had a range of emotions,” he said.
Bronson is a co-owner of Centennial Vapor and a big part of the business is selling a wide variety of flavored e-cigarette liquids.
“What am I going to do?” he questioned.
Branson told CBS4 sales would cut in at least half if the flavored nicotine is taken off the shelves. He said the products help adults quit smoking cigarettes, so taking the flavor options away would be a step backward.
“People come here for a reason and we feel great helping them out,” he said. “When flavors go away, I think most folks are going to go back to cigarettes, so it’s going to be a public health travesty if they ban flavors.”
The call to ban all non-tobacco flavored products is a move aimed at dissuading children from picking up the habit of vaping. Yet, Branson isn’t convinced that will stop kids from trying it.
“Kids are going to do things that they want to do, regardless of laws or availability,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but I think they’ll get ahold of it one way or another. [The administration] needs to look at harm reduction most of all, and most harm reduction would be keeping [children] off cigarettes.”
Branson also said the reported illnesses linked back to vaping aren’t because of flavored products, rather people using a THC cartridge and a thickening agent.
“That’s what killed those people,” he said, referring to the half dozen reported deaths associated with vaping.
Instead of banning products and flavors adults enjoy, Branson said marketing and packaging should change.
“Maybe make the packaging plain and have a flavor name, but maybe not ‘Watermelon Slurpee,’ or something like that,” he said.
Yet the FDA intends to finalize a policy to remove flavored vaping products from store shelves within the coming weeks. Branson fears that could result in a very bland outlook for the vaping industry.
“Everybody… that’s in this industry is considering a new job right now,” Branson said.